Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Camp Bay users angry over Government plans to quash ‘reservations’

Beach row flares up

Camp Bay Gibraltar
The users of Camp Bay and Little Bay are up in arms following news that the local Government plans to remove any beach umbrellas left overnight to secure prime beach spots.

Yesterday a group of regulars sent a letter and a petition to the Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB) – with copies to the media – claiming that they were being “discriminated against” by the authorities.

Earlier this week, the GTB informed users that as from today, any items left unattended between 7am and 7.45am at Camp Bay and Little Bay would be removed.

Officials said the move was aimed at facilitating beach cleaning, but it was clear that the underlying goal was to put an end to the controversial practice of ‘reserving’ good sites on the beach.

As happens every summer, there have been a number of angry complaints in the media from beach goers who say it is unfair that others are allowed to hoard the top spots, even on days when they are not actually at the beach.

But yesterday it was the Camp Bay and Little Bay regulars, most of who say they try to secure sites in order to be close their family and friends, who were furious.

“We feel that it is not hurting anybody if we leave umbrellas overnight,” their letter to the GTB said.

“You comment [that] it is vital to remove them for the maintenance of the beach, but how have you managed to clean the beach for the past years?” they asked the authorities.

“The answer is simple,” one man told the Chronicle yesterday afternoon. “There is no beach cleaning here.”

In the letter, the users rejected claims that people using ‘reserved’ tables had been forced to leave, adding that on most days there were numerous vacant tables available. They also pointed out that there is ample space to install additional tables if the demand is as high as is being claimed.

“This problem only comes up when the weather is bad at Eastern Beach and people come here,” another regular user said.

The move by the GTB has also inadvertently lifted the lid on a litany of problems at Camp Bay and Little Bay. Regular users say they have been raising these concerns for years but have been ignored.

On the issue of the reserved tables, they urged the government to reconsider their earlier proposal that individual sites be rented out, as happens in other beaches.

But the list of grievances went much further. In their letter, the users complained that toilet facilities were inadequate and that showers only worked intermittently. They added that both the pools and the pier were in poor condition and unsafe, a concern also levelled at the general state of the concrete promenades, the playing areas and the shoreline.

Then they pointed to divers who, although technically not allowed to use the beach until 6pm, apparently regularly “infringe their curfew”.

The list went on, taking in delivery vans that paid no heed to crowds and children and the lack of shade in the children’s play area.

Summed up, regular users of Camp Bay and Little Bay feel the two beaches have been neglected for years.

As for the removal of beach umbrellas, the letter reached a provocative conclusion:

“At least one good thing could come from all this, that is, our beach will be cleaned on a daily basis and we will not have to do the job ourselves.”

Related Article:

08 August 2005 - Government moves to act on recurrent beach complaints


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